Elephants are highly mobile creatures and a herd needs to travel atleast 10 kilometers a day. If we think elephants can be restricted to an area of about 100 sq.km then we are taking away their basic behavior. Moreover, they need tones of vegetation as food every day, now if we try and construct them in smaller areas, they are bound to ravage the area in a matter of days and then will enter into localities and would destroy hectares of crops, many lives and ample property.
In Jharkhand it’s a burning problem for the villagers every year tons of food grains and crops are destroyed for elephants.
In India, while poaching for tusk continues to be a large scale phenomenon, it is the influx of elephants rather we can say ‘Man Elephant Conflict’ which has been creating a furor. According to project Elephant, 3% of India’s total land surface is elephant country and 10% of this is affected by conflict. However, wild elephants probably kill far more people than tigers, leopards or lions as they suddenly get into locality in search of food and kill lives. According to MOEFCC data, 391 people and 39 elephants died in 2015-2016 across India as a result of conflict. This indicates that elephants are increasingly foraging for food outside the ‘designated’ forest areas. Main crux of the problem lies in habitat loss and shrinkage of food sources for elephants which is directly related to deforestation and increasing demand of human need. With increasing human casualty dues to influx of elephants, it has become imperative that there be a warning system alerting the residents on the peripheries of elephant corridors of the elephants’ advent. This can only save the lives but not the crops and properties belonging to the people dwelling in particular area. Influx of elephants is inevitable as their habitat has been encroached by the humans for their own purpose. So we cannot totally blame the elephants.
If a viable solution to man elephant conflict is not reached at the earliest, this- coupled with the lucrative ivory – will serve as the death knell for elephants.
By Ratula Das (1st sem, RKMVERI)